MARY KATE CARY http://marykatecary.com Presidential Speechwriter and Filmmaker Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:26:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Hillary Clinton and Democrats Want to Take Your Guns http://marykatecary.com/hillary-clinton-and-democrats-want-to-take-your-guns/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:21:24 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=496 I passed a background check and legally own a 20 gauge pump-action shotgun that I use to shoot clay pigeons at target ranges.

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First, full disclosure: I am a gun owner. I passed a background check and legally own a 20 gauge pump-action shotgun that I use to shoot clay pigeons at target ranges. I am not alone. According to a 2013 survey by the National Sporting Goods Association, women’s participation in shooting sports increased by 51.5 percent, to just over 5 million women, for target shooting over the last decade. There are a lot of women like me who like to shoot skeet.

In case you are wondering, I am not a member of the NRA.

I believe that gun violence is a plague on our nation. I believe that all gun owners should have to pass a background check, and that a prior record of committing violent crimes is a very good reason for denying one’s Constitutional right to own a gun. I have no problem with reasonable waiting periods. I don’t understand why anyone needs to own military-style assault weapons, and I think they should be more difficult, if not nearly impossible, to obtain.

I believe that mental illness is also a plague on our nation. Polls show that most, if not all, Americans agree that severely mentally ill people should not have access to guns. The problem is, how do we keep them from getting guns? This is not a problem we’re going to solve tomorrow, but there are a few reforms we should consider in the short run.

First, many people would be safer – including those who are mentally ill themselves – if we expanded involuntary or civil commitment for cases of severe mental illness. That would get the most difficult cases off the streets, and would likely save many lives. Plus I think we owe it to the people who are suffering the most to get them to a place where they can be helped. The compassionate thing to do would be to get them the treatment they desperately need.

Because of privacy laws, we have no way for gun dealers to know if someone is suffering from mental illness. Currently, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, federal law cannot require states to identify people with mental illness to the FBI’s  National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used for background checks by gun dealers. As a result, as we know, too many mentally ill individuals can pass background checks. It’s time to require that all states report mental illness issues to the NICS, and amend the privacy laws so that doctors, family members and even friends can have input and report their concerns.

One more idea: so many of these mass killings have taken place at churches, college campuses, high schools and even military recruiting stations – most of which are “gun-free zones.” While gun-free zone legislation was originally well-intentioned, many of those zones have now become open targets for mentally ill shooters. We should keep the harsh penalties for bringing guns into those places, but perhaps we should consider exempting armed guards where needed – or at the very least taking down the “gun-free zone” signs. I wouldn’t post one of those signs outside my house, for fear of being robbed; why post them outside of places where innocent, unarmed people are known to be gathering?

At a New Hampshire town hall meeting this week, Hillary Clinton was asked about ideas for reforming gun laws – this was a few days after the first Democratic debate, in which she said that Bernie Sanders wasn’t “tough enough” on guns. At the town hall, she went far beyond what mainstream Americans think is “tough enough.”

“Recently, Australia managed to take away tens of thousands, millions of handguns. In one year, they were all gone. Can we do that? If we can’t, why can’t we?” a man asked Clinton.

“In the Australian example, as I recall, that was a buyback program,” Clinton responded. “The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns. Then, they basically clamped down, going forward, in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach, but they believe, and I think the evidence supports them, that by offering to buyback those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and set a different standard for gun purchases in the future … So I think that’s worth considering. I do not know enough detail to tell you how we would do it, or how would it work, but certainly your example is worth looking at.”

First of all, what Clinton didn’t mention is that the Australian Constitution does not include a right to own guns, as our’s does. That’s one very big reason we can’t do that.

Prior to 1996, the Australian states and territories all had different gun laws; a mass shooting caused the government to impose national, uniformly strict regulations on firearms – something that may not be possible to get through Congress here. Or the Supreme Court.

Clinton also didn’t mention that the buyback was not optional – as it has been in some American cities – but mandatory. Although Australian citizens were compensated for their firearms (by increasing the tax on Medicare!), the government effectively confiscated hundreds of thousands of handguns, rifles and shotguns. Most Australian citizens who were not in the military or law enforcement couldn’t keep their guns even if they wanted to.

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The No Fun Zone http://marykatecary.com/the-no-fun-zone/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:20:38 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=508 The first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle will be held on Tuesday, October 13 on CNN, with Anderson Cooper hosting from Las Vegas. As I write this, speculation is rampant about whether Vice President Joe Biden will jump in the race. Right now the betting is that he won’t debate – there’s not enough […]

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The first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle will be held on Tuesday, October 13 on CNN, with Anderson Cooper hosting from Las Vegas. As I write this, speculation is rampant about whether Vice President Joe Biden will jump in the race. Right now the betting is that he won’t debate – there’s not enough time for full-scale debate prep – even if he does enter the race. So in addition to probably not seeing the vice president on stage, here are five things you probably won’t see either:

First, you won’t see former President Bill Clinton in the audience, for the same reason you didn’t see former President George W. Bush at any of the GOP debates cheering for his brother. As Hillary Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last month, “I’m not running for my husband’s third term … I’m running for my first.” If he’s smart, he’ll stay away.

Second, you won’t see Hillary Clinton go after socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, who is surging in the polls and has raised almost as much money as she has this quarter – all from over a million small donations, which means he’s got staying power because most of his donors will be able to donate again and again. Clinton recently told a longtime supporter, “I am not going to start to take shots at Bernie Sanders.” In fact, the last time she was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” she wouldn’t even mention him by name. While some backers are getting nervous about her silence – she risks looking arrogant and out-of-touch – they also know that polls show that most Sanders supporters would back her in the general election should she be the nominee. That means she won’t tear him down and risk losing Sanders supporters in the long run. “I have five words of advice for the campaign,” longtime Clinton backer Paul Begala told the Washington Post when asked whether she should start attacking Sanders: “No, no, no, no and no.”

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The GOPs Primary Calendar Could Help Defeat Trump http://marykatecary.com/the-gops-primary-calendar-could-help-defeat-trump/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:01:32 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=512 Think CNN’s strategy is to keep the format so loose that all the Republicans look like buffoons?” my brother texted me during the most recent GOP debate. Most Republicans would answer him with a resounding “Yes.” I can’t tell you how many friends asked me immediately afterward why the debate was so ungoverned – a […]

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Think CNN’s strategy is to keep the format so loose that all the Republicans look like buffoons?” my brother texted me during the most recent GOP debate.
Most Republicans would answer him with a resounding “Yes.”
I can’t tell you how many friends asked me immediately afterward why the debate was so ungoverned – a bell or a buzzer would have been better than hundreds of “Thank you, governor” interruptions from Jake Tapper. And why he was asking so many food-fight type questions? “Can’t the GOP do something about that?” I was asked over and over.
The answer is no. “By law, the Republican Party cannot dictate who the moderators are, or what the ground rules should be, or even the length of time for each debate,” one Republican source involved with the debate negotiations says. “If the GOP decides anything other than the date of the debate and the media partner carrying it, the party would ‘own’ the debate – and for the networks to sponsor it would be viewed as an illegal in-kind contribution to the GOP.” Oh well.

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On 41ON41, Return to a ’Kinder and Gentler Nation’ http://marykatecary.com/on-41on41/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:00:26 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=499 Is it any surprise that Congress ranked at the bottom of the most recent Gallup poll of institutions Americans feel confidence in? Such poll results are a sad reflection of voters’ impatience with the lack of compromise and increasing polarization in Washington. “This whole thing that’s happened over the last 20-plus years is somewhat alien […]

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Is it any surprise that Congress ranked at the bottom of the most recent Gallup poll of institutions Americans feel confidence in? Such poll results are a sad reflection of voters’ impatience with the lack of compromise and increasing polarization in Washington. “This whole thing that’s happened over the last 20-plus years is somewhat alien to those of us who grew up in a different time,” says former President Bill Clinton. “You fight in the election. You have your differences. The voters would decide, and then they expected you to get something done. And now it’s viewed as something rare.”

“If you’re fighting with somebody all the time … you literally can’t hear what the other person’s saying,” Clinton adds. “If you’re in constant combat mode – there can be nothing good about your opponent and nothing bad about you and you’re never wrong and they’re never right – it makes you deaf. It shuts your brain down. And that’s a bad thing.”

But the effects go beyond the White House and Congress to the American people. “Hatred corrodes the container it’s in,” says former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. “And don’t think it ain’t out there. [People] hate Congress. They hate the president. They hate the leaders.” Simpson makes a great point: “You can’t hate politicians and love democracy.”

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On Lowering the Drinking Age http://marykatecary.com/on-lowering-the-drinking-age/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:45:58 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=506 Time to Lower the Drinking Age I was telling my college-age daughter recently that back in the olden days when I went to college, you could fill a red Solo cup with beer at a fraternity party and sip it all night long. No one knew if it was your first beer or your 10th. […]

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Time to Lower the Drinking Age

I was telling my college-age daughter recently that back in the olden days when I went to college, you could fill a red Solo cup with beer at a fraternity party and sip it all night long. No one knew if it was your first beer or your 10th. There was no need for “pregaming” – binge drinking in private apartments or dorms before heading out in public. And unlike today, college kids didn’t tend to use fake IDs as much

That’s because when I was an undergrad, the drinking age was 18. Fraternities had kegs out in the open on university property, and student gatherings on campus often included beer. I remember university police regularly strolling through the fraternity parties, making sure everything was under control. That tended to keep a lid on things.

Then, 30 years ago this summer, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act of 1984, which mandated that all states adopt 21 as the legal drinking age over the next five years. States that did not comply faced a cut in their federal highway funds; by 1988, all 50 states had moved the minimum drinking age to 21.

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On voter ID laws being “racist” http://marykatecary.com/on-voter-id-laws-being-racist/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:45:26 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=504 Asking Voters for ID Is Not a Race Issue So I was sick last week and went to the emergency room, where I had to show ID before I was seen by a doctor; he thought it might be appendicitis and sent me for a CT scan. Again, I had to show ID before being […]

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Asking Voters for ID Is Not a Race Issue

So I was sick last week and went to the emergency room, where I had to show ID before I was seen by a doctor; he thought it might be appendicitis and sent me for a CT scan. Again, I had to show ID before being scanned. (By the way, I’m fine, just a bad stomach bug.) As I think about it, over the last month I’ve had to show ID to rent a car, fly on a plane, and get a hotel room. I’ve been asked for ID at the grocery store in order to buy a six-pack of beer, at office buildings in Washington so I could get past the lobby security guard, and at the bank to get a cash withdrawal. We all know what a hassle it is to have your wallet stolen—it’s not that the canceling of the credit cards is so bad, it’s the losing of the ID that makes it a crisis. These days, you have to show your ID for just about everything.

That’s what makes E.J. Dionne’s column this week so mystifying. Dionne wrote about the push in many states to require ID before one can vote. He points out that in Texas, for example, “The law allows concealed handgun licenses as identification, but not student IDs.” Maybe that has something to do with the fact that so many student IDs are altered and used as fake IDs to buy beer; back when I was in college, most bars wouldn’t accept a student ID, only a government-issued drivers’ license, as proof of age. Handgun licenses are government-issued as well, which would explain why a state government would approve their use, but not that of student IDs. But Dionne tries to make it into a partisan issue by arguing that Sen. John McCain won a wider margin of gun-owning voters nationally than Barack Obama did, and that really, Republicans in state legislatures are behind all of this “rigging.”

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On Herman Cain’s problem with women http://marykatecary.com/on-herman-cains-problem-with-women/ Fri, 04 Dec 2015 16:44:56 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=502 Why I Am Done Defending Herman Cain People have been asking me all week if conservatives will stick with Herman Cain, but I think he’s got a bigger problem than the conservative vote. A lot more women than conservatives vote, and the women I’ve talked to are finished with him. There’s a new CBS poll […]

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Why I Am Done Defending Herman Cain

People have been asking me all week if conservatives will stick with Herman Cain, but I think he’s got a bigger problem than the conservative vote. A lot more women than conservatives vote, and the women I’ve talked to are finished with him.

There’s a new CBS poll which says that 38 percent of female Republican primary voters are “less likely to back him” now that more accusers have come forward. Among all registered voters, CBS reports that Cain has lost support among women since last month—from 28 percent in October to 15 percent now. My sense is that 15 percent of female registered voters remaining as Cain supporters may be a little high, because the poll was conducted before Cain’s attorney started threatening any other potential accusers with the notion that they’d better “think twice” before coming forward.

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What Romney’s Run Can Still Teach Republicans http://marykatecary.com/what-romneys-run-can-still-teach-republicans/ Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:25:34 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=424 The GOP should change the way it nominates candidates if it wants to find success in 2016.

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Have you seen the new documentary “Mitt” on Netflix? Say what you want about Mitt Romney, but here was a good and thoroughly decent man who, after losing a tough election, was left with his family and his integrity intact. Not every politician can say that. And the film has many funny moments – Romney ironing his own sleeve while wearing his white-tie-and-tails before a great performance at the annual Al Smith charity dinner in New York City in 2012 was one – but many poignant moments too. We saw Ann Romney and their sons tear up many times, watched more than once as the entire family got on their knees to pray, listened as they decided to pull out of the 2008 race. Watching the replay of election night 2012, and the way that Romney reacted so graciously, proved true Ann Romney’s later sentiment that “we lost, but truly the country lost by not having Mitt as president.”

At one point, Romney admits he may have been a flawed candidate, but a lot of what happened to him was also caused by a flawed system. As Ron Kaufman, a GOP national committeeman from Massachusetts, told me, “Everyone agrees that the process hurt our nominee last time.”

A bit of history: In 1976, the presidential nominating process changed in two ways as a result of post-Watergate amendments to federal campaign finance laws. Public financing of federal elections began, and contribution limits for presidential candidates – $1,000 during the primaries and $1,000 for the general election – were set into law. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first candidate in history to opt out of public financing, and his massive fundraising edge in that race guaranteed that there would probably never be another publicly financed Republican nominee. No one wants his or her hands to be tied.

Meanwhile, inflation and the rise of super PACs have distorted spending, and campaign costs have skyrocketed. Salaries, technology and travel all cost more than they used to, but the biggest jump has been in television ad rates over the last four decades. During the Ford administration, the average 30-second network television ad generally cost under $33,000; today it averages about $110,000. Yet the rules remain the same.

Under the current system, a candidate (whether publicly or privately financed) cannot spend general election money during the primary season. So the later the nominating convention, the longer the candidate goes without general election funds. In 2012, Mitt Romney won enough delegates for the nomination on April 25, yet could not spend general election money until after the GOP nominating convention ended in late August. Meanwhile, by not competing in a single primary, Obama was rich with unspent primary funds. During those same four summer months, he launched a devastating ad blitz that negatively defined Romney for voters.

The GOP voted last month to shorten the nominating process to about three and a half months. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada will all hold their primaries and caucuses no later than March 1. In 2016, if any other state schedules its primary prior to this date (as Florida did this cycle, pushing those other four states into January), then the hammer will drop. Depending on its size, the state will be allowed no more than nine delegates (plus RNC committee members) at the nominating convention. The tough new penalties have had a quick effect. The Florida state legislature has already moved its 2016 primary back.

In addition, any primaries taking place in the first two weeks of March will award delegates proportionately. This allows lesser-funded and lesser-known candidates to get their foot in the door. Then, after March 14, states will have the option of awarding delegates winner-take-all. The result: Front-runners build momentum, and the field narrows. Republicans will have a nominee earlier in the process. One more change: Now all delegates must be selected by 45 days prior to the convention, rather than the previous 35 days. The new system gives any candidate the chance to do well in the early states and to pick up some momentum without a long, drawn-out process exhausting them both physically and financially.

But the RNC shouldn’t stop there. First, it should move the convention earlier in the summer. Back in the day, a shorter general election cycle would compensate for inadequate public funding for the general election, so the parties moved the conventions later and later. The conventional wisdom was that holding the convention as late as possible gave the biggest polling “bump” right before the election. But now that public financing is kaput and cash-strapped candidates can’t compete through the long summer, it makes more sense to move the convention up. “If the Republican convention in 2012 had been held on July 1 instead of [in late August], Mitt’s chances of winning would have been exponentially higher,” Kaufman says.

Second, it’s time to cut down the number of Republican primary debates. In the 2011-12 cycle, there were more than two dozen of them, which did nothing but make the entire Republican field look bad. (Remember the 2011 Republican primary debate held on Twitter? Let’s not go there.) Seven to 10 debates would be fine, and while we’re at it, let’s have the locations and moderators chosen by the party. It’s time to stop the madness of dozens of debates – for the sake of the campaigns, for those of us who cover them, and for the voters we’d like to keep tuned in. Most of all, let’s make the system friendlier to the good and thoroughly decent people whom we need to run for office.

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A Fiscal Bill the GOP Can Get Behind http://marykatecary.com/a-fiscal-bill-the-gop-can-get-behind/ Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:24:16 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=421 Selling 50-year bonds could be leveraged into a $750 billion investment pool to fund infrastructure projects.

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In 2013, Congress passed the fewest number of laws in history, well beneath the level of the famous “Do Nothing” Congress (as President Harry Truman dubbed it) of 1948. The reason is that the GOP strategy for the last five years has been to stop big-spending legislation from the left. With our national debt at $17 trillion and counting, that’s not crazy. Somebody’s got to be the adult in the candy store.

Last month, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met in person for the first time since December of 2012. That’s got to be a first – no face-to-face contact in over a year between a speaker and a president? And while a showdown over another government shutdown has been averted – Boehner recently allowed a “clean” vote on raising the debt ceiling without any conditions, and a two-year budget agreement was passed in December – until there’s more of a thaw between the two men, there’s little chance of compromise on other issues. Nor is there much chance of finding funding. When Gallup asked Americans to list their top policy concerns, the government led the list – beating out the economy and terrorism. For good reason, voters are disgusted.

As conservatives met recently at their annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C., much of the discussion centered on the path forward for the next three years. Should tax reform wait while the House leadership continues to go after Obamacare? When it comes to building the Republican brand with minorities, is a compromise on immigration reform better than no deal? It’s clear that Republicans aren’t willing to agree to any more “investment” – President Obama’s code word for more unpaid-for federal spending – but as a result, they’ve become known more for what they oppose than for what they support.

Meanwhile, everything from rewriting the tax code and reforming entitlements to rebuilding crumbling infrastructure remains undone. But there may be a glimmer of hope, at least in the area of rebuilding our infrastructure. A freshman Democratic Congressman from my home state of Maryland, John Delaney, has proposed a bill to create a $50 billion fund to finance infrastructure projects that will be created through the sale of 50-year bonds, which could in turn be leveraged into a $750 billion investment pool. The fund will provide loans to cities and states to finance construction of bridges, roads, schools, waterways, the energy grid and even communications projects – and none of it will be at taxpayer expense.

Here’s the interesting part: In order for the idea to work, companies must buy the bonds. To encourage that, the bill would allow corporations to repatriate overseas earnings tax-free for every dollar they invest in the bonds. (The amount of repatriated funds per dollar will be determined not by the government, but at auction.)  This would help incentivize U.S. companies such as General Electric, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Citigroup, to name a few – who are collectively parking roughly $1.2 trillion in profits overseas – to put some of that offshore cash back into the U.S. economy.

That money is sitting on the sidelines because an elaborate system of international tax treaties allows companies to shift their profits to countries with the lowest tax rates in the world, regardless of where the profits were earned. Generally, U.S. law does not require companies to pay taxes on profits earned by overseas subsidiaries if the money isn’t brought back to the U.S. If they do bring the profits back – to build new manufacturing plants, acquire other companies, or expand their business, for example – it is taxed at 35 percent, minus any foreign taxes already paid. According to one study, the average rate most companies pay in foreign countries is 6.9 percent; meanwhile PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that the U.S. average effective corporate tax rate is around 27 percent, one of the highest in the world. No wonder all the money stays overseas.

What makes this idea a good one for conservatives is that there’s no compromise involved: Rebuilding our infrastructure creates jobs and economic growth; financing it without any federal appropriations is fiscally responsible. States’ rights advocates will like that the money raised goes to states and municipalities, not the federal government. Free market advocates will appreciate the fact that the private market determines repatriation rates. And common sense tells us that incentivizing companies to repatriate profits from overseas frees up cash for business expansion and job growth.

Best of all, this bill would give relief from high corporate tax rates without having to wait for the White House and Democrats to agree to comprehensive tax reform. This is a great first step toward fiscal conservatives’ goal of simplifying our tax code and making America more competitive internationally. It gives conservatives a chance to say what they are for, not just what they’re against.

Some Republicans have already figured this out. The Partnership to Rebuild America Act currently has 25 Democratic and 25 Republican co-sponsors in the House. But get this: In the Senate, more Republican co-sponsors have signed on to the bill than Democrats.

Critics will argue that repatriating foreign profits may only result in higher shareholder dividends and increased executive compensation, and populist Democrats may be scared off by the idea of lowering the corporate tax rate under any scenario. But the benefits of this bill outweigh all of that, and conservatives should get behind it. The best thing. Delaney can do at this point? Just make sure that President Obama doesn’t endorse the bill.

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A Courageous President http://marykatecary.com/a-courageous-president/ Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:22:46 +0000 http://marykatecary.com/?p=418 George H.W. Bush is being honored for signing off on the unpopular 1990 budget agreement.

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The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation recently announced the winners of its annual Profile in Courage Award, given to leaders who risk their political careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. A recipient this year is former President George H.W. Bush, for his decision more than two decades ago to sign off on the 1990 budget agreement with Congress.

When candidate Bush accepted the Republican nomination for president at the 1988 GOP convention, he famously made his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge. By Inauguration Day, the grim reality set in: He faced Democratic control of both the House and the Senate. Republicans were outnumbered 175 to 260 in the House, 45 to 55 in the Senate. It was going to be a very tough four years.

In 1989, the federal deficit exceeded $150 billion, with projections from economists that it was about to go much higher. Marlin Fitzwater, former White House press secretary, explained to me: “It was a difficult time. The deficit was so high that the president was reminded of it every day because it was given as the reason why we weren’t getting [an economic] recovery.” Interest rates were higher then, and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan refused to lower rates for lending until the deficit was reduced. Job growth stalled, and economic growth screeched to a halt. “The president was very concerned about that,” Fitzwater said.

In a recent interview looking back on those days, then-ABC News White House correspondent Brit Hume told me, “I remember a reporter asking President Bush a question about whether this was merely a first-year promise or whether this was a promise in perpetuity. He said, ‘Well I’d like it to be more than a first-year promise.’ So it was not even certain at the time that it was going to be more than in the first year of his presidency. But over time, of course, he didn’t raise taxes – and then it became sort of set in concrete, as a promise never to raise taxes.”

President Bush convened top-level negotiations in closed sessions at nearby Andrews Air Force Base with Republican and Democratic leaders from both the House and the Senate, along with White House negotiators. “The more he sat in on the meetings … the more he decided that regardless of the politics, regardless of the consequences, that he had to raise more money through taxation,” Fitzwater says. The deal: In exchange for domestic discretionary spending caps, unprecedented entitlement reforms, and pay-as-you-go rules that required balanced federal budgets within five years, Bush agreed to raise the top federal individual income tax rate from 28 to 31 percent – not bad, compared to today’s top rate of 39.6 percent. Today, with the national debt at $17 trillion, most Republicans would love to get a deal like that.

Back then, the word went out within minutes: George Bush had broken his no-new-taxes pledge. I remember going to work that day at the White House speechwriting office as all hell broke loose.

At the time, the president said while it wasn’t the best deal, it was the best deal he’d get from that Congress. He was right. Although the final agreement passed the Democrat-controlled Senate with Republican support, it received very few GOP votes in the House. House Minority Leader Newt Gingrich, who had supported the deal in the talks at Andrews, changed his vote and led the Republican charge against the deal. It was stunning, former Senate Minority Whip Alan Simpson told me, to see how many fellow Republicans “shot old George out of the saddle … [it] brings tears to your eyes.”

“He did it out of good motives. He was trying to get something done. He was trying, as he said, to govern,” Hume explains. But Hume also thinks that President Bush didn’t understand the place that tax rates held in the minds of conservatives, who were livid at the deal. “To them, it was a kind of a proxy for everything you thought about government – that your job was not simply to fund government, it was to restrain its growth, and taxes were a symbol of that.  They were also a symbol of the idea of freeing the private sector to do more, so that the economy would grow. It meant many things to those people and when he went along with new taxes, it seemed – it was a breech with them that really never fully healed.”

As a result, Pat Buchanan launched a primary challenge from the right a year later, and Ross Perot ran as an independent against Bush in the general election, taking enough votes away from Republicans to hand Clinton a victory with less than 50 percent of the vote. There may be a lot of reasons President Bush lost re-election, but the 1990 budget deal should not have been one of them.

“That budget agreement was much more significant than people recognize,” says former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu. The deficit started dropping, and the economy started turning around in what would have been Bush 41’s second term; instead, it was during Clinton’s first term. “In my opinion, [it] created the good times for which his successor gets all the credit,” Sununu says. “But that credit should be shared with George Bush.”

It may be two and a half decades later, but it’s not too late for President Bush to be honored for his political courage. He paid a very high price for doing what was best for the country. “He took the heat for what he thought was right, in the face of incredible political opposition,” Fitzwater told me. “That was a profile in courage.” Bush deserved to be re-elected, and he deserves this award.

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